It might be a little strange to play an exhibition hockey game during the middle of your regular season. That is exactly what the Merrimack College Warriors did on Sunday afternoon. The United States National Development team came to Lawler Rink to get some work in before the holiday break. This was the second game of a back-to-back for Team USA. On Saturday night, they took on the Boston University Terriers in a similar matchup. Who is the National Team Development team? They are kids under the age of 18 who are playing junior hockey programs and college teams across the country. Most of these kids will be playing college hockey next season for a school near you. This year they have earned the right, by making this team, to play a full season’s worth of games to get an idea of what is ahead for them.
For Merrimack, Sunday was a chance to work on things in a non-competitive setting. If the first period was an indication the players were more than willing to take advantage. It would take the Warriors all of 1:27 of the period to take the lead. Alex Jefferies, off of a 2-on-1, broke in on the right side and beat Team USA goalie Tyler Muszelik to the short side. The play was set up by a nice pass from Declan Carlile. For Jefferies, the goal was his fourth of the season. The Warriors, who for the most part controlled the first twenty minutes, struck again on even strength. Ben Brar put home his seventh of the year with assists from Jefferies and Mark Hillier. Brar’s goal came from the high slot. Merrimack would outshoot Team USA in the first frame.
The second period saw the Warriors pick up where they left off in the first. Jefferies scored his second of the game and fifth of the season as he picked up a loose puck and took it down the right-wing and beat Muszelik to the far side. Assists on the third Merrimack goal went to Jordan Seyfert and Carlile. The Warriors’ fourth goal of the game was the prettiest of the game to that point. Regan Kimens scored off a terrific cross-ice pass from left to right by Seyfert to make it a 4-0 lead at 8:23 of the second. Team USA finally got on the board with the help of some Warriors penalties. On a 5-on-3, Team USA worked the puck around the perimeter and picked up the power-play tally from Lane Hudson in the high slot. Assists went to Issac Howard and Jimmy Snuggerud. The goal came at 9:58. They struck again at 12:17 when Ryan Chesley intercepted an attempted clearance pass along the board and rifled a shot past Warrior netminder Hugo Ollas to make it a 4-2 game. Merrimack added another one before the period ended to make it a 5-2 game after two.
In the third, Merrimack added a power-play goal from Adam Arvedson, his second of the season from Hillier and Zack Vinnell at 9:28 to make it 6-2. Team USA pulled their goalie with under four minutes left, and the Warriors’ Regan Kimens added his second of the game to make it 7-2. Then with less than a minute to play on a 4-on-4 Zack Uens recorded his first of the year to make the final score Merrimack 8 Team USA 2. Big games for Jefferies with a four-point effort Seyfert, Hillier, and Carlile with two points apiece. With the loss, Team USA’s record is now 19-5-1. Next up for Merrimack is a non-league home game on Friday night vs Dartmouth.
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